Civil Society Days 2023

EESC “Civil Society Days 2023”

It was a breath of fresh air for EVBB to participate in the 2023 edition of the EESC “Civil Society Days” that lasted three days (1st to 3rd of March) and brought together citizens, organised civil society and the European institutions under the theme “Civil society organisations: a pillar of democracy and a key player to overcome current challenges”.

Within the current context (war on European soil, post-pandemic recovery, democratic values under increasing pressure on both sides of the EU’s borders), the three-day event provided an opportunity for civil society to engage in open and inclusive conversations and debates about the following questions: How do we see participatory and deliberative democracy in the future? How can we democratise the European economy? How should civil society be funded? What do digital rights mean to citizens? What skills do we need?

Throughout the event, eight workshops were held:

Workshop 2: Skills and Lifelong Learning for Democratic Societies

The second workshop was co-organized by the European Association of Institutes for Vocational Training (EVBB), the Lifelong Learning Platform – European Civil Society for Education (LLLP), and Cooperatives Europe, in collaboration with the EESC Section for Employment, Social Affairs, and Citizenship. It took place on the first day of the “Civil Society Days 2023.” (SOC).

The event, moderated by EVBB Secretary General Theodor Grassos, focused on how, from a life course perspective, education, training, and transversal skills are the way forward for Europe. People can achieve fulfilment in their life and adjust to fast-paced changes if they have certain abilities, competencies, and attitudes. Whether attention is focused on the twin transitions or the energy crisis, the EU must not lose sight of the existing threats to democratic ideals that have been resurrected across Europe. Skills, whether vocational or social, technical or vital skills, assist people of all ages in dealing with current challenges and become more aware of their own potential in society. As a result, democratic involvement improves and communities and social life are strengthened.

Critical thinking, problem solving, and digital literacy are examples of transversal skills and key competencies that span across sectors, fields, tasks, eras, and lives. In order to develop truly inclusive and sustainable learning societies, it is critical to embrace a lifelong learning strategy and implement reforms holistically while modernising education and training systems. Equipping students with the required cross-disciplinary skills to navigate modern seas is a critical endeavour for all educational sectors. In the spirit of adopting key competences for lifelong learning, the goal of this workshop was to investigate the various ways in which these attitudes improve democratic life in Europe.


Workshop 2 Agenda – 1 March 2023:

Moderation: Theodor Grassos (Secretary General of EVBB)

15:00 Words of welcome – Raffaela Kihrer, Vice President of the Lifelong Learning Platform

15:10 Panel discussion – with Dr Nazik Beishenaly (KU Leuven), Tatjana Babrauskiene (Member of the EESC), Carlo Scatoli (Senior Expert, Unit Skills Agenda, Directorate Skills and Jobs, Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission)

16:00 Interactive sessionAndrea Lapegna (LLLP Platform)

16:20 Wrap-up – Astri Liland – Cooperatives Europe board member and Head of competence and training at the Norwegian Agriculture Cooperatives association (Norsk Landbrukssamvirke)

16:30 End


Workshop 2 – Interactive session

Mr. Andrea Lapegna (LLLP PLatform) animated the interactive session, which consisted of a series of questions for participants to answer:

Workshop 2 – Recommendations

The recommendations from Workshop 2 were presented by Mathilde Delabie during the closing session of the “Civil Society Days 2023”

1 – Education and training are not a matter of government only.

We must adopt a holistic and cooperative approach on education and training. To face our current challenges, we need to shape skills provision in partnership with civil society and all social partners who have political capital, concrete knowledge and understanding of the current needs and shortcomings. Introducing reforms in a holistic manner is the only option. By listening to those on the ground, building bridges across partners and by leaving no one behind, we will build a truly inclusive and sustainable learning societies.

2 – Transversal competences are the key for citizen’s conscious and active participation in society.

While education and training policies often focus on job-specific skills, transversal competences are the true backbone of a participatory and deliberative democracy: cooperation, critical thinking, problem-solving, democratic and collective management, conflict-resolution. These competences are based on common European values: democracy, solidarity, inclusion. They allow citizens to consciously participate in society and actively engage in our economy. We must focus on these transversal skills through formal and non-formal education, we must practice these in the workplace and take example on alternative governance models like cooperatives for example. But above all, we must work on boosting and recognizing these competences, otherwise they will remain invisible and so will our efforts to adapt to this fast-paced world. 

EVBB would like to extend its gratitude to all those who were responsible for organising and attending this fantastic event. This event was also a wonderful chance to see and speak in person with a large number of interesting and inspiring people representing a diverse range of groups affiliated with the Civil Society.